Changing Priorities
© 2005, Ferna Lary Mills
There are a lot of things than can change your priorities.  In fact, usually the BIG things that
come along make everything else seem so insignificant that it's often hard to believe we ever
allowed those little things to be on our priority list in the first place.

For example, think of all the folks who evacuated during these recent hurricanes. Living in East
Texas, the idea of evacuation entered my mind, but being far enough from the coast I thought
we would be okay if we just "hunkered down" here. But oh, how my priorities changed!
Suddenly, the day to day things I normally deal with fell completely off the list. Food, water,
necessities all went to the very top of the list.

Find the emergency candles. Now, I should ALWAYS know where they are, because they are
for emergencies! But when things are going great in my life, I never think about them. Truthfully,
I had to search quite a bit to finally find them in the back of a drawer FULL of stuff that only God
knows how it all got there. By the way, the candles were behind all the spare (and very dead)
batteries in the front of the drawer.

Fill the bathtub with water.  Funny, I never noticed that the drain plug on the bathtub doesn't
complete stop the water from draining. This was NOT the time to need a plumber!  I tried to be
creative. Filling a gallon bag with water to it would completely cover the drain with plastic proved
to be futile. A gallon bag of water won't completely stay sunk at the bottom of a bathtub filled
with water. I opened the drain a bit so it would suck the plastic down and seal it, but as soon as
I pulled the toggle back, it blew my bag back out again. Salt water is heaver than fresh water, so
I filled the bag with nearly a whole can of salt. So much salt it wouldn't even all dissolve. Well,
the bag sunk finally, but it still refused to stop the water from draining out of the tub.  It is
interesting to note that once I quit worrying about it, the water in the tub reached a certain level
and quit draining all on its own!

Fortunately, we only had some nasty wind and some rain, but all in all, we were quite lucky.
(Didn't need the candles or the emergency water in the bathtub after all.) But this episode still
made me stop and re-analyze my priorities. For a while, I will continue to look at things
differently. I suppose this new view will last until I get wrapped up in life again and forget once
more where I put those candles or that the tub drain needs a new seal.

So, what has this got to do with Grief? Grief rearranges our priorities. My stepfather was an avid
beekeeper. It was his love and his lifelong hobby. It wasn't his life's work, as he was a
photographer by trade, but every spare moment was tending to his bees. The day he died, he
had been melting down honey that had started turning to sugar. His favorite part of this hobby
was selling honey to pay for his efforts. That particular day, he suffered a massive heart attack
and even though the doctors worked feverishly, they couldn't bring him back.  He was only 51
years old.

When Mom and I returned home from the hospital without him, it seemed so out of place that his
big jars of honey were still sitting in hot water, just as he left them... as if nothing had ever
changed.  Suddenly, the honey held no priority, and almost even seemed silly. He was gone
from us forever. His sudden death was like a hurricane that wiped out our heart. The light had
gone out in our spirit and we couldn't find the emergency candles. The tears drained from our
eyes and nothing could make them stop.

You simply can't plan ahead for grief. Oh sure, you can make pre-need funeral arrangements
and get all the physical stuff taken care of in advance, but you can't plan ahead for the
emotional loss. When it comes, it comes with a great big smack right across the heart, even
when you're expecting it, but even worse when you're not.

It will change your life. It will change your priorities. The things that were important only hours
before may now seem completely ridiculous. The basics are suddenly on top of the priority list:
how to get through the pain:  breathe, eat, sleep, cry. Search hard for the emergency candles,
even if you have to dig way back in the back of your spiritual drawer. Jesus is there and will
light the path that is dark now with a light that will carry you through this rough time.

Don't worry if the tears won't stop falling. Even tears have a reason. There will come a time ... I
promise ... that you will be so involved in living again that you will one day realize that the tears
have stopped and life has been marching right along without you even realizing it.

May God bless you and comfort you and give you Peace.


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